Biden declines to meet with Zelensky due to Kiev’s refusal to fight corruption — Axios

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WASHINGTON, June 7. /TASS/. The White House had been considering organizing a meeting of US President Joe Biden with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky before the Russian-US summit in Geneva, yet declined to move ahead with the meeting because of the situation around Naftogaz, the Axios portal reported on Monday citing a source in Biden’s administration.

“The White House was considering inviting Zelensky to Washington before Biden’s summit with Putin but declined to move ahead with the meeting after Zelensky decided to replace the management of state energy company Naftogaz. That move led to concerns in the administration he was backsliding on anti-corruption efforts,” the source said.

At the end of April, Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers fired Andrei Kobolev from his position as the CEO of Naftogaz appointing acting Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko instead. This decision was explained by the unsatisfactory results of the company’s activity in 2020. The government also terminated the authority of independent members of the Naftogaz supervisory board and state representatives on the board. The company called the decision to fire the CEO “a legal manipulation” because the designation or termination of the head of the company is the exclusive jurisdiction of the supervisory board. The US criticized this state interference into the company’s operations, viewing it as an opportunity for corruption and abuse.